The Brave One (2007)
The Brave One (2007)

Genre: Thriller Running Time: 2 hrs. 2 min.

Release Date: September 14th, 2007 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Neil Jordan Actors: Jodie Foster, Terrence Howard, Nicky Katt, Naveen Andrews, Mary Steenburgen, Luis Da Silva Jr., Blaze Foster, Jane Adams, Zoe Kravitz




art “Ms. 45,” part “Kill Bill,” and mostly “Death Wish,” Neil Jordan’s “The Brave One” explores themes of justice, revenge, and moral ambiguity while unfolding a dramatic tale of vigilante terror – all with a driving undertone of “forgiveness is for wussies.” Paradoxical in its approach to individually determined recompense and brutal violence, the film works to entertain through cathartic gratification, which only serves to discredit the realism for which it originally strove. Although “The Brave One” possesses believable circumstances, it proves that obeying the law isn’t nearly as much fun as breaking it – and that meting out retribution with cold steel is the quickest way to get a cheer from the audience.

New York radio host Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) lives a picturesque life of happiness with her fiancé David (Naveen Andrews). But all that changes abruptly when a gang of thugs viciously attacks the couple in the park and leaves them for dead. When Erica awakens in a hospital to learn that David has died, she vents her frustrations via vigilante justice in New York’s seedy underworld of crime. Patrolling alleyways, subways, and ghettos, Erica begins hunting down and killing those that seem to deserve it most. But when an honest cop is hot on her trail – and the bloodshed rapidly eats away at her soul – she must decide if the fragile line of right and wrong, lawful and unlawful, must be crossed yet again.

First and foremost, this film goes for the typical Hollywood crowd-pleasing action – and exploitive vigilantism is a surefire trick. Who doesn’t love to see the underdog break the law in all the right places? Unfortunately, 1974’s “Death Wish” beat “The Brave One” to the punch. With only a few twists and turns to differentiate Foster’s self-proclaimed enforcer from the slew of preexisting movie antiheroes, director Neil Jordan uses her inner conflicts for extra complexity; part of her wants to bloodily dispose of those who destroyed her comfortable life, while the other part wants to put it all behind her and learn how to regain a sense of normalcy, evidenced by her own narration of her decent into identity-altering violence.

Foster’s performance is potent, believable, and sensible, but she continues to play slight variations on herself – whether it is on an airplane (“Flightplan”) or as a secretive high-power broker (“Inside Man”). In “The Brave One,” she can’t shake the feeling that she’s still Jodie Foster – struggling with loss and an overwhelming desire for vengeance. Supporting actor Terrence Howard, on the other hand, is still fresh and inventive, allowing his role to pull the spotlight away from Foster on more than one occasion. This also happens with Nicky Katt (as a fellow detective), whose role is entirely comedy relief.

Hollywood has become infatuated with overwrought twists in movie conclusions; “The Brave One,” being no exception, falls prey to the notion, but ultimately offers up little innovation in that department. Instead, the build-up and presentation of its storyline, combined with searing performances, helps tip the scales back into favorable territory. Bain’s tormented battle with her emotions is an intriguing one (potentially embracing the very things she sets out to abolish); but even when things wrap up a little too neatly in the end, Jordan realizes how much more satisfying it can be to let street justice prevail (no matter how many laws one must break). Plus, it’s easy to root for such a strong female lead character – and Foster is no stranger to just such a role.

– The Massie Twins

  • 7/10